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Suspected French jihadist charged with plotting attack

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A suspected French jihadist with possible links to the Islamic State group was charged on Sunday with plotting an attack in France and remanded, a judicial source said.

The 28-year-old French-Moroccan named as Youssef Ettaoujar was known to police as he was one of the first to be convicted of trying to travel to Syria.

He was arrested on Wednesday on suspicion of plotting “violent acts” against France. He has also been charged with fraud.

Two men and a woman arrested at the same time have been released without charge, the source added.
The father of a young girl named Jihad, Ettaoujar was handed a four-year prison sentence in March 2014 for trying to travel to Syria with two friends, Fares Farsi and Salah-Eddine Gourmat.

They were the first people convicted in France for attempting to join the jihad in Syria.

Released in October, Ettaoujar was placed under house arrest under the state of emergency imposed after the jihadist attacks in Paris on November 13 claimed by the Islamic State group that left 130 people dead.

Investigators are trying to establish whether he was in contact with Gourmat, who managed to leave France before the trial in 2014 and was convicted in his absence. Gourmat is thought to have reached Syria and joined ISIS.

There are suspicions that Ettaoujar was given a credit line to finance an attack, according to a source close to the investigation.

“I would have liked to be a journalist,” he said during his trial in 2014, denying any jihadist link. “I was interested in filming the sadness [of Syrians].”

The three men were arrested in May 2012 at an airport near Saint-Etienne in central France carrying a revolver, night-vision goggles, camouflage clothing and tactical vests.

They were first put in contact the previous December at a meeting in the southern city of Nice organised by Omar Diaby, considered the leading recruiter of French jihadists until he was killed in Syria.

No weapons were found during the raids on Wednesday, although an unused Kalashnikov rifle cartridge was discovered.NEWS24

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